Two Arrested After Fire in Vermont Hotel Room That Injured Woman

March 22, 2021

Two people have been arrested after police responded to what they called a suspicious fire at a hotel in Berlin that critically injured a woman.

A fire ignited in the 56-year-old woman’s room at the Hilltop Inn, Berlin police said.

No one at the hotel called authorities to report the fire, and it was approximately six hours before an ambulance was called and took the injured woman to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, police said.

Police said that they arrested Melissa Guptil, 32, who used to work at the hotel, on charges of reckless endangerment and tampering with facilities for disabling the smoke detector in the woman’s room. David Darnell, 39, who lives and works at the hotel, is facing a charge of reckless endangerment. It was not immediately known if either has an attorney.

The fire started on the floor and was contained to one room; no one else was injured, police said.

State and town fire officials did a fire safety compliance inspection of 57 of the 82 hotel rooms and found that some fire doors were not closing properly and some exit signs and emergency lighting systems were not functioning, police said. They also found that the fire alarm system was working and only one unit did not have compliant smoke detectors. A follow-up check will be done in about 30 days, police said.

A staff member at the Hilltop Inn said Monday that she could not comment and directed any questions to the Berlin police chief.

Guptil and Darnell are scheduled to be arraigned on April 29.

Topics Numbers Arson

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